L13 Dumbass Award: The RFL and the Magic Roundabout of International Eligibility

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Google Buzz Send Gmail

images.jpgLest one should ever wonder just why rugby league is a 3rd-class sport in the British Isles, one only has to follow the policy-making of its governing body, the Rugby Football League.

If ever an organisation radiated uncertainty, a consistent lack of leadership and coin-toss integrity then this is it. If ever an organisation made a habitual and seemingly sustained effort to repeatedly shoot itself in the foot, this is it. Oh yes … the RFL is the Yossemity Sam of sports’ governing bodies.

Stop the Magic Roundabout Petition 

Express your support (if you do) by signing the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rlmerrygoround

That’s why (and thanks to @leaguefreak for the reminder) the RFL wins the L13 Dumbass Award this week.

The latest in a long line of “what-rule?” switchbacks is the announcement of Scotland international half-back, Danny Brough, in England’s Elite training squad.

English-born Brough opted to represent Scotland and good on him – this is not a tirade against the player – but has now chosen to play for England.

Ridiculous as allowing that decision is, the international player eligibility rules do allow it, providing the player sits-out of international competition for two-years. Yet with the defection of Kyle Eastmond to rugby union, it seems likely that England will turn to Brough for this season’s Four Nations in an attempt to beat Wales into third-place.

In my opinion the whole merry-go-round makes a mockery of top-class international rugby league competition; at a time when that level of football is at an all-time low (excepting the excellent work of the RLIF/RLEF in developing nations).

If the game is going to allow a player to switch, it ought to be a one time thing; no flip-flopping; for all nations. Once you’ve played for a country it’s yours for life.

And I know that that policy may hit emerging nations such as Lebanon and Italy, although it does not actually prevent for example, Australian-Lebanese players choosing Lebanon as their nation; just the flip-flop back.

In the long run surely it is better for those countries to include only players committed to the cause? But If that’s a massive roadblock then it’s possible to envisage a rule that allow certain players to adopt an international-mentor/diplomat-exemption status to play with strategic emerging nations, without impacting their long-term national-eligibility status.

If only there were an international governing body with the teeth to impose such rules.